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Waste company fined for using waste as flood defence

An Essex-based waste company has been fined £19,430 for knowingly depositing waste illegally to act as flood defences on protected farm.

Simon Hollington, a tenant farmer at Little Hayes Farm, Stow Maries, employed T J Cottis Transport Ltd to deliver 3,920 tonnes of construction waste to the land between 15 April and 8 May 2015.

Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard that for depositing the waste, the company paid Hollington £4,800, a sum £24,000 lower than they would legally pay in landfill charges. This means that despite the fine, the company has only paid slightly more than it would have for disposing of the waste correctly.

Waste company fined for using waste as flood defence
Flood Defences at Little Hayes Farm site
The material was predominantly construction and demolition waste from development sites and T J Cottis Transport’s waste treatment facility, including concrete, brick, plastic, glass, wood and plasterboard amongst soil and stones. The illegal deposit was used in an attempt to strengthen flood defences at the farm, however it was unsuitable and a breach of a waste exemption.

Magistrates found that Little Hayes Farm did not comply with a U1 exemption, which only permits 1,000 tonnes of soil and stones to be used for construction purposes. More than three times this amount was deposited on to the farm before the Environment Agency (EA) and Natural England stopped the activity.   

Although the work was carried out to improve flood defences at the site, the EA found that the work was undertaken without a flood defence consent or permission from Natural England. Little Hayes Farm, situated in a small Essex village, is within an area benefiting from several forms of environmental protection: it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, a Special Protection Area, a Special Area of Conservation and a RAMSAR site (signifying protected wetlands).

On Thursday 3 August, the court found T J Cottis Transport and Jedd Cottis, a director of the company, guilty of depositing the waste without an environmental permit and failure to comply with duty of care requirements. Holllington pleaded guilty to knowingly causing the illegal deposit.

Miriam Tordoff, prosecuting for the EA, explained to the court that the waste is expected to be removed later this year. Hollington has applied for an environmental permit to do this, following the EA’s request.

After the hearing EA enforcement team leader Lesley Robertson said: “This case highlights to landowners that risk taking is not acceptable, whether it is a risk that concerns human health or the environment. Owning a piece of land means accepting a responsibility to the surrounding area and all that resides there, be it business, homes or wildlife.

“If you want to operate under a waste exemption you must register that exemption with the EA. Each registration lasts three years and will then expire unless you re-register. Each exemption has specific limits and conditions you need to operate within. If you don’t, you will not be exempt from needing a permit and may face enforcement action.”

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